Sometimes you rediscover things that you have long forgotten when you take a trip down memory lane. A month or so back I received a call from a video production company in England. They were producing a show on a competitor that had competed in the 1988 Race Across America. They had been referred to me as I worked as the race’s photographer during that race.
From 1984 though 1999, I worked as the race’s photographer. The Race Across America, RAAM, is a transcontinental bicycle race that starts on the West Coast and ends on the East Coast. Unlike bicycle stage races, such as the Tour de France, where each day the racers complete a race of a definite length, in RAAM, the entire course is the stage. There is no definite time each day after the stage has been completed, for the racer to rest, have a massage or a meal.
All the competitors start together and the first one to the finish line is the winner. They have to complete a course that is defined by the Race. They are free to get of the bike to eat, sleep or answer natures call. When they are of the bike, they aren’t making any headway toward the finish. If their competitors are on the bike riding and they aren’t, they are losing ground. Time off the bike is time lost, so the major rule in RAAM was, “Stay on the Bike”. As little time of the bike was the mantra. It was normal for most racers to sleep as little as 2 to 3 hours a day. The winner would cover the typical 3000 mile race in 9-10 days.
Covering the race, my wife and I wouldn’t get a lot of sleep either. After all, if we slept, the race moved on and we would then have to play catch up. We usually tried to get a good 8 hour sleep about halve way through the race. It was a tough assignment, but also very rewarding. Since the race usually was on the back roads of America, we got to see many places few people get to visit because they are flying down the Interstate. How many people have got to visit Slapout, OK or Pie Town, NM? The only downside is we didn’t have time to do much sightseeing, as we had to keep up with the race.
As I started looking through the transparencies from the 1988 Race, a ton on memories came flooding back. This was from the time before digital photography and everything was on film. I had to go through notebooks filled with slide pages, pages with 20 slide per page. I had to review them by taking each page out of the notebook and place it on a light table. I would then take a loupe and look at each slide. It sort of like Grid View in Adobe Lightroom except I only see 20 at a time. If I want to see the little inch by inch and a half image in greater detail, I have to look at with my loupe. It sure made me appreciate Lightroom. With my dual 24 inch monitors, I can see the grid view on one monitor and the loupe view of an image on the other. Boy, is it much faster and easier now. But at the same time, I do miss film sometimes, but then again, not that much.
Looking at the 1988 race I saw some photos of a friend that competed in the 1987 and 1988 race. It the hit me, I had some photos of him in the 1987 race that fit in with my Giants photo project. After I got the photos to the folks in England, I dug out the transparencies fro 1987 race. Flipping through images I came across what I was looking for. There it was Chris Kostman, 20 years old at the time, being stalked by a Giant Gumby. Chris is still a good friend and I see him a few times a year at some of the Ultra-marathon events he produces. He produces bicycling and running events and I come out to his events to do some photography each year. Chris always has a small Gumby as his totem and good luck piece.
Having known Chris since 1984, I knew Chris would enjoy a print of him and Gumby from 1987. I was traveling up to Remo the following week to photograph his “Silver State 508” Ultra-marathon cycling race and decide to make a print and give it to him there, since this race was covering the same place the photo was made 27 years earlier. I then new I had to add it to my project.
My wife and I are now starting to go through the 15 years of transparencies of RAAM with the thought of producing a photo book of our adventures. It’s going to take a bit of effort, not just to go through all the images, pick the ones we think should be in the book, but then to scan them. I first have to round up all the images, as many have not been returned to the notebooks where they belong. Many are still in the packages that they were returned in from different publications during those years. That will also mean straightening up many other images that haven’t been placed back in their correct locations after having been returned.
Revisiting the past can create a lot of work, but that’s my fault as I should have done a better job, but I was always looking forward to the next assignment, not worrying about what was already done. I guess I will get to look at many old images. I’m not looking forward to the work, but I am looking forward to all the memories that I will find in the process. I do know that it will make me appreciate the digital process. Since I acquire my DSLR in July, 2001, I haven’t shot one roll of film.
Enjoy the Giant Gumby. It was shot on Highway 50, the loneliest road in America, somewhere east of Fallon, NV. Who knew, Gumby was a stalker!!!
To view the rest of my Land of Giants images, please visit my web Page. http://www.djnphoto.com. Once you get to the site, go to the Galleries section and there you can see the Land of Giants Project or any other projects I may be working on.
Thank you and keep those shutters clicking.